By Jake Donovan
Shakur Stevenson opens up the new year the same way he closed out 2018—with a bang.
The 21-year old Newark (NJ) native and 2016 Olympic Silver medalist scored his second straight spectacular knockout, the latest a 4th round stoppage of Jessie Cris Rosales in Friday’s ESPN+-streamed co-feature at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York.
A left hand shot put the Rosales down midway through round four, prompting referee Charlie Fitch to stop the contest on the spot.
Stevenson (10-0, 6KOs) never got caught up in trying to replicate the highlight-reel 1st round knockout of Viorel Simeon last October on ESPN’s flagship network. The former amateur standout—who brought home silver for the United States in the 2016 Rio Olympics—patiently boxed in the early going, working well behind his jab and using his spacing to create opportunities rather than go on the hunt.
In chipping away at Rosales’ defense, the young featherweight recalled a question asked of him after Thursday’s weigh-in.
“Tim (Bradley, former two-division champ and current ESPN analyst) asked me in the fighter meeting if I was gonna fight on the inside,” Stevenson told ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna after the fight. “So I went in there and showed that I could.”
Stevenson began pushing Rosales around the ring with his jab and clean left hands. His money punch produced the end of the fight, with a straight left sending Rosales to the canvas in round four. It was enough to instantly call a halt to the contest, coming at 1:29 of round four.
Despite just 10 fights into his pro career, Stevenson has lofty goals in mind—including a change of scenery for a future fight.
“I’d love to go to England,” admitted Stevenson afterward before raising the stakes even more. “Once I’m (in line)to fight for a title, I want Josh Warrington.”
Given their network affiliation, it would be among the easier featherweight title fights to make for the rising contender. Warrington is fresh off a 12-round win over former two-division champ Carl Frampton, with their war last December streaming live on ESPN+ thanks to promoter Frank Warren’s network deal through Top Rank.
“I just talked to Frank about that fight when I was over in London this week,” revealed Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum. “Look, if (Stevenson) wants that fight, it’s certainly an easy enough fight to make.”